Iran today reinforced its warning to America against keeping a US navy presence in the oil-rich Gulf, adding steel to a threat that Washington had dismissed as a sign of "weakness" from Tehran.
"Iran will do anything to preserve the security of the Strait of Hormuz" at the entrance to the Gulf, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi said, according to the website of Iran's state television.
"The presence of forces from beyond the [Gulf] region has no result but turbulence. We have said the presence of forces from beyond the region in the Persian Gulf is not needed and is harmful," he was quoted as saying.
The comments echoed a warning issued yesterday by Iran's military that it would unleash its "full force" if a US aircraft carrier is redeployed to the Gulf.
"We don't have the intention of repeating our warning, and we warn only once," Brigadier General Ataollah Salehi, Iran's armed forces chief, said as he told Washington to keep its aircraft carrier out of the Gulf.
The White House yesterday had brushed off the warning, saying it "reflects the fact that Iran is in a position of weakness" as it struggles under international sanctions.
The US Defence Department said it would not alter its deployment of warships to the Gulf.
But today, Salehi again stressed his warning, and called 10 days of Iranian navy war games just held near the Strait of Hormuz as a "message" to the United States.
"The forces from beyond the region have received the appropriate message from these manoeuvres," he said, according to the official IRNA news agency.